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Six Years of the MADE

The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment celebrates 6 years open to the public, today. Here's a look at what's going on at the MADE before we celebrate 6 years this Saturday.

Alex Handy, Blogger

September 28, 2017

5 Min Read

The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment is now six years old. Today is officially our anniversary, marking the first day we moved into our original location. Now we’re closing in on the end of our second year in our current 4000+ square foot location, and we’re still growing every day.

Just to give you a glimpse into an average weekend (We’re only open Fri-Sun):

  • Friday sees around 50+ visitors, mostly for Smash Melee tournaments. We charge half price admission for these players. Last Friday, this was supplemented with 15 full paid visitors.

  • Saturday mornings kick off at 10 AM sharp with our free kids Scratch programming class. This has taken place every Saturday except holidays since we opened our doors six years ago. We’ve taught over 800 students.

  • This past Saturday morning, the Women in Gaming Game Jam took place, starting at 10AM and running through Sunday evening. The ladies took up residence amidst snacks and caffeinated beverages in our common room.

  • At 11, a group of special needs kids with autism-spectrum disorders have rented the space for an hour before opening. This gives them a chance to play the games without noise and movement from unknown people or visitors. The parents are super grateful, the kids have the times of their lives, and they all head out for lunch just as we open the doors.

  • At 12, we open and people begin trickling in. The kids from the programming class enter the museum for free. Everyone else pays $10. They point, we put in that game. Visitors can choose from over 5000 games on original hardware, and an additional 5000+ in emulation. You can play any game in the museum, save for many PC games, which require installations. We’re working on this, however.

  • 1 PM: Our Art for Scratch class begins, usually drawing the same kids who took the first class: they work on art and animations for the games they made earlier.

  • The first Saturday of the month, our oldest continually meeting group, SF Interactive Fiction Group, meets in our common area and plays a game ala MST3K. “Get the rope!” “No, grab the Aspirin!” “Go West!”

  • Sunday we reopen at 12, and generally see a quieter day. Community groups often meetup on Sundays in herds and play together, while birthday parties are also popular during Sunday afternoons in our common area.

  • One Sunday a month, we host a Smash 64 tournament. It’s not as big as Smash Melee, but is larger than any other game tournaments we’ve hosted, with 20 regularly attending.

  • Monday we’re closed. At some point in the past week, someone has signed into NeoHabitat, our relaunched, free public server for Habitat, the C64 MMO.

  • Tuesday at 1 PM (Developer hours) co-working begins, hosted by Jim Crawford.

  • Wednesday at 7 PM is our volunteer meeting, where our mostly volunteer staff coordinates and discusses how best to grow the MADE.

  • Thursday at 1 PM (Developer hours) co-working again.

  • Once per quarter, we host the audio developers meetup, where the local audio designers come and discuss their work, give presentations, and generally have a good time. This generally sees veterans rubbing elbows with newcomers.

As you can see, the MADE is wicked busy, with all manner of new things going on. And we’re nowhere near done. Every day we find new things coming through the door, new people at our meetings, and new communities to interact with.

We still need help to become sustainable, but we're about half-way there. As with any business, however, expenses go up as we get more successful, so soon, we're going to have to have 2 paid employees on site during open hours. For now, we're making do with one, plus an intern paid from a local non-profit that helps foster kids gain work skills. As you can imagine, we're a bit of a dream job for the kids, so they try to use us as the reward job for their best kids. We've definitely seen that, as some of these interns have stayed around to volunteer long after their internships have ended.

One of those communities is the Anti-Defamation League. We’re hosting a Game Jam in collaboration with them on October 21 and 22. Teams can form now and get started ahead of time, with the last 24 hours as a time to come together and finish everything in time for final submissions. You’re also welcome to participate without attending in person. The theme is “Being an Ally,” which we feel should provide some interesting opportunities to flip the typical player narrative on its head.

Of course, we’re also celebrating our 6th anniversary on September 30, with free admissions from 12 to 10, special high score contests, and your last chance to see our spectacular Sonic exhibition. Where else can you play as Knuckles in Sonic 3 with all the original hardware these days?

We’d like to thank the industry at large for supporting our work, and to ask for your continued support as we grow. The Bay Area is not going to get any cheaper in the future, and our rent remains our largest single expense. Currently, the only paid workers here work, total, 18 hours a week at minimum wage: they run the space during open hours and run the register. Other than them, none of our incredible volunteers profits from the MADE. We all do this because we are passionate about preserving the history of this industry, and with spreading the love of games to all people.

Games don’t divide us, they unite us. Nowhere is this more evident than at the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment, here in Oakland. Come help us celebrate 6 years of sharing games with the world.


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Alex Handy


Alex Handy is a freelance gaming and security journalist. He blogs at his personal website, and is a former editor at Game Developer magazine.

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